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Dynamic Changes in Heart Rate and Cerebral Blood Flow During Acute Vagal Nerve Stimulation

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Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may

Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may involve changes in cerebral blood flow. The vagus nerve plays a significant role in the regulation of heart rate and cerebral blood flow that are altered during VNS. Here, we examined the effects of acute vagal nerve stimulation on both heart rate and cerebral blood flow. Laser Speckle Contrast Analysis (LASCA) was used to analyze the cerebral blood flow of male Long\u2014Evans rats. Results showed two distinct patterns of responses whereby animals either experienced a mild or severe decrease in heart rate during VNS. Further, animals that displayed mild heart rate decreases showed an increase in cerebral blood flow that persisted beyond VNS. Animals that displayed severe decreases showed a transient decrease in cerebral blood flow followed by an increase that was greater than that observed in mild animals but progressively decreased after VNS. The results suggest two distinct patterns of changes in both heart rate and cerebral blood flow that may be related to the intensity of VNS.

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2018-05

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The Effect of Nanoparticle Diameter on TAT-mediated Delivery to the CNS In Vivo

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Neurological disorders are difficult to treat with current drug delivery methods due to their inefficiency and the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms behind drug delivery across the blood brain barrier (BBB). Nanoparticles (NPs) are a promising drug delivery method

Neurological disorders are difficult to treat with current drug delivery methods due to their inefficiency and the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms behind drug delivery across the blood brain barrier (BBB). Nanoparticles (NPs) are a promising drug delivery method due to their biocompatibility and ability to be modified by cell penetrating peptides, such as transactivating transciptor (TAT) peptide, which has been shown to increase efficiency of delivery. There are multiple proposed mechanisms of TAT-mediated delivery that also have size restrictions on the molecules that can undergo each BBB crossing mechanism. The effect of nanoparticle size on TAT-mediated delivery in vivo is an important aspect to research in order to better understand the delivery mechanisms and to create more efficient NPs. NPs called FluoSpheres are used because they come in defined diameters unlike polymeric NPs that have a broad distribution of diameters. Both modified and unmodified 100nm and 200nm NPs were able to bypass the BBB and were seen in the brain, spinal cord, liver, and spleen using confocal microscopy and a biodistribution study. Statistically significant differences in delivery rate of the different sized NPs or between TAT-modified and unmodified NPs were not found. Therefore in future work a larger range of diameter size will be evaluated. Also the unmodified NPs will be conjugated with scrambled peptide to ensure that both unmodified and TAT-modified NPs are prepared in identical fashion to better understand the role of size on TAT targeting. Although all the NPs were able to bypass the BBB, future work will hopefully provide a better representation of how NP size effects the rate of TAT-mediated delivery to the CNS.

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2016-05

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Analysis of Brain Activity in Elite Golfers

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It is unknown which regions of the brain are most or least active for golfers during a peak performance state (Flow State or "The Zone") on the putting green. To address this issue, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were taken on 10

It is unknown which regions of the brain are most or least active for golfers during a peak performance state (Flow State or "The Zone") on the putting green. To address this issue, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were taken on 10 elite golfers while they performed a putting drill consisting of hitting nine putts spaced uniformly around a hole each five feet away. Data was collected at three time periods, before, during and after the putt. Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measurements were also recorded on each subject. Three of the subjects performed a visualization of the same putting drill and their brain waves and GSR were recorded and then compared with their actual performance of the drill. EEG data in the Theta (4 \u2014 7 Hz) bandwidth and Alpha (7 \u2014 13 Hz) bandwidth in 11 different locations across the head were analyzed. Relative power spectrum was used to quantify the data. From the results, it was found that there is a higher magnitude of power in both the theta and alpha bandwidths for a missed putt in comparison to a made putt (p<0.05). It was also found that there is a higher average power in the right hemisphere for made putts. There was not a higher power in the occipital region of the brain nor was there a lower power level in the frontal cortical region during made putts. The hypothesis that there would be a difference between the means of the power level in performance compared to visualization techniques was also supported.

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2016-05

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Overcoming bias: Neural Correlates of Judgment Bias and Framing Effects in Cognition of Music

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Prior expectations can bias evaluative judgments of sensory information. We show that information about a performer's status can bias the evaluation of musical stimuli, reflected by differential activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, we demonstrate that decreased susceptibility

Prior expectations can bias evaluative judgments of sensory information. We show that information about a performer's status can bias the evaluation of musical stimuli, reflected by differential activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Moreover, we demonstrate that decreased susceptibility to this confirmation bias is (a) accompanied by the recruitment of and (b) correlated with the white-matter structure of the executive control network, particularly related to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). By using long-duration musical stimuli, we were able to track the initial biasing, subsequent perception, and ultimate evaluation of the stimuli, examining the full evolution of these biases over time. Our findings confirm the persistence of confirmation bias effects even when ample opportunity exists to gather information about true stimulus quality, and underline the importance of executive control in reducing bias.

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2018-05

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The Role of Retention and Forgetting in Context Dependent Sensorimotor Memory of Dexterous Manipulation

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The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to

The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to lift the same object in the opposite context relative to that experience on the last block. On each context switch, an interference of the previous block of trials was found resulting in manipulation errors (object tilt). However, no significant re-learning was found two weeks later for the first block of trials (p = 0.826), indicating that the previously observed interference among contexts lasted a very short time. Interestingly, upon switching to the other context, sensorimotor memories again interfered with visually-based planning. This means that the memory of lifting in the first context somehow blocked the memory of lifting in the second context. In addition, the performance in the first trial two weeks later and the previous trial of the same context were not significantly different (p = 0.159). This means that subjects are able to retain long-term sensorimotor memories. Lastly, the last four trials in which subjects switched contexts were not significantly different from each other (p = 0.334). This means that the interference from sensorimotor memories of lifting in opposite contexts was weaker, thus eventually leading to the attainment of steady performance.

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2013-05

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Utilizing Structural MRI Data to Improve Epilepsy Surgery Planning

Description

In epilepsy, malformations that cause seizures often require surgery. The purpose of this research is to join forces with the Multi-Center Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project at University College London (UCL) in order to improve the process of detecting lesions

In epilepsy, malformations that cause seizures often require surgery. The purpose of this research is to join forces with the Multi-Center Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project at University College London (UCL) in order to improve the process of detecting lesions in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. This, in turn, will improve surgical outcomes via more structured surgical planning. It is a global effort, with more than 20 sites across 5 continents. The targeted populations for this study include patients whose epilepsy stems from Focal Cortical Dysplasia. Focal Cortical Dysplasia is an abnormality of cortical development, and causes most of the drug-resistant epilepsy. Currently, the creators of MELD have developed a set of protocols which wrap various
commands designed to streamline post-processing of MRI images. Using this partnership, the Applied Neuroscience and Technology Lab at PCH has been able to complete production of a post-processing pipeline which integrates locally sourced smoothing techniques to help identify lesions in patients with evidence of Focal Cortical Dysplasia. The end result is a system in which a patient with epilepsy may experience more successful post-surgical results due to the
combination of a lesion detection mechanism and the radiologist using their trained eye in the presurgical stages. As one of the main points of this work is the global aspect of it, Barrett thesis funding was dedicated for a trip to London in order to network with other MELD project collaborators. This was a successful trip for the project as a whole in addition to this particular thesis. The ability to troubleshoot problems with one another in a room full of subject matter
experts allowed for a high level of discussion and learning. Future work includes implementing machine learning approaches which consider all morphometry parameters simultaneously.

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2019-05